The Mazals
December 19th, 2019
5:30pm reception, 7:00pm program
El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

We are proud to honor the 2009 JFREJ Board of Directors with the Bedrock Member Leader Award at the Mazals, the 2019 Awards Gala of JFREJ and the Jewish Vote.

Also honoring: Tiffany Cabán, Mariame Kaba, and Make the Road NY.

In its first nineteen storied years, Jews For Racial & Economic Justice accumulated impressive wins and developed a stellar reputation in New York’s grassroots progressive community that has only grown in the years since. But despite its successes, JFREJ almost didn’t make it. While it may be hard to picture today, JFREJ might have disappeared if not for the commitment, vision, and care demonstrated by the 2009 JFREJ Board of Directors.

In February 2009, JFREJ found itself facing an organizational financial crisis that mirrored the national recession. Facing the possibility of having to close our doors, the board decided to do the unsexy labor of preserving the legacy of the organization. They rolled up their sleeves and got to work, pulling all-nighters sorting through accounting and spreadsheets, budgets, and fundraising plans. By April, JFREJ’s finances bottomed out, and plans began in earnest to rapidly transition to an all-volunteer organizing model. By May, the board had laid off the staff — however, their organizing prowess had laid the solid foundation to allow member leaders to keep the day-to-day campaign work moving.

Meanwhile, the board, alongside JFREJ’s loyal member-leaders, contacted major donors and dug into their own pockets. Many members gave more money than was comfortable, and some donors were willing to give more than they normally did, earlier than they planned, or forgive loans they had made. By January 2010, these fundraising efforts and a successful Meyer Awards fundraising campaign lifted JFREJ out of emergency status.

We honor and thank Rabbi Guy Austrian, Ilana Berger, John Berman, Adrienne Cooper z”l, Stosh Cotler, Shira Eve Epstein, Katie Goldstein, Alison Hirsch, Rosza Daniel Lang/Levitsky, Ilanit Gerblich-Kalir, Jeyn Levison, Lorne Lieb, Sam J. Miller, Jon Moscow, Matt Vogel, Lucas Shapiro, Rabbi Alex Weissman, Elizabeth Wilson, Quito Ziegler, and Interim Executive Director Dana J. Schneider. We also honor the vast community of staff, campaign leaders, generous donors, and active members who worked alongside the board to preserve JFREJ’s legacy and future.

The JFREJ community, the residents of New York, and radicals, rabble-rousers, and justice-seekers across the globe are indebted to the group of extraordinary people who saved JFREJ — they’re why we’re here today.

Photo by Zachary Schulman Photography